Stapp Inspires Educator Highlight – A Quiet Bridge Builder

This month we head out to Silver Creek and into the social studies classroom of Justelle Grandsaert. Justelle is in her 20th year of teaching and she was one of the first teachers who helped open Silver Creek High School 18 years ago. She grew up in California knowing that her calling was to be a teacher. After she graduated with her bachelor’s degree she spent a year teaching the early grades, but upon completing her Master’s Degree she discovered her passion was teaching high schoolers and never looked back.

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If you are thinking that you may have heard Justelle’s name mentioned in a past highlight, you are correct. Our 2017-2018 ‘Outstanding Student’, Parker Nicholas, said “Mrs. Grandsaert teaches with such passion, and I want to be the kind of teacher she was for me for someone else.” Parker credits Justelle (or Mrs. G as every student calls her) with inspiring her to go into education. Knowing this, I was excited to meet up with Justelle and learn more about what takes place in her classroom.

 

Justelle teaches freshman World Studies – a combination of history and literature. As students study ancient Greece they compliment those studies by reading Homer’s Odyssey. She helps students build bridges between points in time and how those environments influence writing. She wants her students to see history in a different light. It is not about dates and timelines, but rather the stories, the people and experiences that make up our pasts. Justelle encourages her students to look at history through different viewpoints and highlights the dangers of a ‘single story’. She wants her students to understand that some of the greatest heroes in history have flaws. Even if sometimes those flaws are major ones.

She also has a few sections of junior government where she strives to have her students see that it’s more than just three branches, but its alive and relevant to their lives. She provides opportunities for her students to identify a local policy that they would want to change and create a proposal on how to do it and present it to local authorities.

Whether a class is looking at flawed heroes or local policy, they both serve as a starting point to the most important lesson Justelle is teaching her students. Above all Justelle wants her students to know that they have a voice and it matters. She empowers her students to use their voice for good in the world. Justelle’s passion instills a spirit of inquiry that stays with students as they move forward in life.

Justelle has a heart for teaching and her students that is special and palpable. She is the type of teacher that quietly pushes her students to push themselves and go beyond what they thought was possible – without them realizing the journey they are on.

Justelle, thank you for taking the time to meet with us, it was truly an honor. We wish you the best!

 

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